Photo Credit: Ed Coyle

Most of the time, seeing a wolf in person is terrifying and a cause for concern. One of the best exceptions to this rule - and one of the greatest reasons to visit Wyoming in the winter - is wolf watching in Yellowstone National Park. Home to many different packs, their dens and habits have been well-documented. As a result, it’s fairly easy to drive to specific parts of the park in order to view them.

When to Visit

For the most part, wolf watching can be enjoyed just about any time of year. That doesn’t mean that you’re always guaranteed to see wolves in the park, though. Like many other animals, wolves tend to move from specific area to another during different parts of the year. Their migratory habits are largely influenced by elk activities, which is their largest source of food. Wolf packs tend to stay put for the longest period of time during the winter. The heavy snowfalls that occur between November and March make the perfect backdrop for wolf watching. Against a palette of white snow, wolves tend to stand out more, making them easier to spot. There’s a definite trade-off for visiting during winter, though, as temps can drop as low as -40 degrees Fahrenheit. Make sure to bundle up!

Where to Go

Yellowstone is enormous, but most people agree that when it comes to wolf watching, the Lamar Valley is the prime spot. The valley, located in the northeast section of the park, is home to the Druid pack, but many other packs stop by to visit, too.

What makes the Lamar Valley such a prime wolf viewing spot? The fact that it’s large and wide open definitely helps. Although huge crowds are rare, the sprawling land make it easy for everyone to get a view. There are also plenty of places nearby where you can stay; this is important, since dusk and dawn are prime wolf watching times of day. Try camping at the Slough Creek campground or the Pebble Creek campground; if possible, stay at the Roosevelt Lodge.

Things to Keep in Mind

Wolves can be spooked by loud noises, so you should always shut off your car engine as soon as you park - don’t sit there with the engine running, even if you’re trying to run the heat. The noise can scare off the wolves and fellow wolf watchers will not take kindly to that! If you have kids with you, make sure they stay quiet at all times.

Wolves are wild animals. Even though many of the wolves at Yellowstone are fairly used to seeing people, it doesn’t mean that they can’t - or won’t - attack when provoked. Be respectful of these amazing creatures during your visit in order to steer clear of trouble. Who knows - you might even luck out and see a group of ten or more at once. Even if you only see a few here and there, though, there’s no denying the power and majesty of these remarkable animals.